Daze of whine and posersby John Brattain
January 14, 2009
It doesn’t accomplish much, and unless you’re three years old with enormous lung capacity and an unusually high-pitched voice it generally doesn’t change matters in your favor, but it does have its utility; once you get it out of your system sometimes you feel a bit better.
Call it a laxative for the soul or as Shrek once opined, “better out than in I always say.”
I speak of course of whining.
Well, the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame vote for 2009 is in the books and I’m too tired to rant, too distracted to be philosophical and too resigned to be indignant. But I am in the perfect frame of mind to fill up the ol’ grievance pool for a good, prolonged wallowing session.
Nah, not going to be commenting much on Tim Raines receiving 22.6 percent of the vote except to do a one-word editorial on the 77.4 percent that left him off their ballot.
If you’re one of the 5.2 percent who saw 3,055 hits, 2,295 runs scored, 2,190 bases on balls, almost 300 home runs and over 1,100 RBIs while batting leadoff and for good measure stole 1,406 bases (topping the previous record by a mere 468 thefts—the difference being good for 42nd all time) and thought “I don’t see a Hall of Fame career here,” might I kindly suggest that once the Q-Tip hits something solid for God’s sake stop pushing.
Thanks to this year’s vote, intelligent designers have close to 28 irrefutable arguments against natural selection.
Leaving that aside, what can we discern from this year’s vote? To begin—while offering congratulations to Rickey and Rice—I think it’s undeniable that the standards for induction haven’t been lowered so much as skewered. Let’s face it; there are a lot of outfielders better than Jim Rice on the outside looking in. What becomes of them?
I leave the final word on Dale Murphy to the estimable Joe Posnanski, because if I had to choose which player I want on my team, I take Murphy over Rice (sounds like a sweet and sour dish from Jeffrey Dahmer’s cookbook) every time. Speaking of other outfielders on the ballot:
BA OBP SLG AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI GDP .290 .339 .471 9358 1272 2712 526 75 339 1493 209 .279 .323 .482 9927 1373 2774 503 98 438 1591 217 .298 .352 .502 8225 1249 2452 373 79 382 1451 315
Yes, Rice enjoys the advantages in the percentages, but the other two played a lot longer, were far superior defensively (at more important positions), one was a better base runner the other has post season hardware but can you honestly say that Rice is a Hall of Famer and the other two: Dave Parker (top) and Andre Dawson (next) are not? Don’t forget, both were damaged; Dawson’s knees gave out and Parker’s woes were self inflicted, but was Rice’s career 331 votes better than Cobra or for that matter 350 better than Murphy or 290 better than Rock Raines? Just for fun, let’s toss in Murphy’s (also a superior defender) totals into the above mix (third from the top) and while we’re at it, just below him we’ll add in Dewey Evans (next one down):
BA OBP SLG AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI GDP .290 .339 .471 9358 1272 2712 526 75 339 1493 209 .279 .323 .482 9927 1373 2774 503 98 438 1591 217 .265 .346 .469 7960 1197 2111 350 39 398 1266 209 .272 .370 .470 8996 1470 2446 483 73 385 1384 227 .298 .352 .502 8225 1249 2452 373 79 382 1451 315
There are 24 Gold Glove awards among the above, and Rice counts for none of them. I’m just using the totals that the majority of the BBWAA use when making such decisions. Just for fun, here are two more outfielders of more recent vintage, but with OPS+ in the range of Rice (listed at bottom):
BA OBP SLG AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI GDP .291 .363 .510 7232 1253 2107 402 63 352 1206 171 .303 .369 .516 7037 1109 2134 421 39 332 1287 195 .298 .352 .502 8225 1249 2452 373 79 382 1451 315
The new arrivals?
Ellis Burks and Moises Alou. Now let’s toss them into the earlier chart:
Player BA OBP SLG AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI GDP Parker .290 .339 .471 9358 1272 2712 526 75 339 1493 209 Dawson .279 .323 .482 9927 1373 2774 503 98 438 1591 217 Murphy .265 .346 .469 7960 1197 2111 350 39 398 1266 209 Evans .272 .370 .470 8996 1470 2446 483 73 385 1384 227 Alou .303 .369 .516 7037 1109 2134 421 39 332 1287 195 Burks .291 .363 .510 7232 1253 2107 402 63 352 1206 171 Rice .298 .352 .502 8225 1249 2452 373 79 382 1451 315
Here's the thing: do Jim Rice’s totals jump out at you and scream that he is vastly superior to the rest? Of that group, Rice, highest in double plays by a wide margin, was the only one, along with Alou, to never win a Gold Glove—and Alou was decent defensively. Rice is also next-to-last in doubles and right in the middle in both home runs and extra-base hits relative to the rest of the group. Let’s check out their defensive relevance insofar as being outfielders and DH go:
Player LF CF RF DH GG Parker 48 31 1792 484 3 Dawson 40 1027 1284 171 8 Murphy 103 1041 749 0 5 Evans 36 32 2092 282 8 Alou 1244 99 603 23 0 Burks 290 1062 360 306 1 Rice 1503 1 44 530 0
Rice had the most games where he was a designated hitter, and the rest of the group played more games at a more crucial defensive position and accounted for 25 Gold Glove awards while so doing.
My biggest question is: what on earth did Jim Rice do to stand out so far from the others that they say he’s worthy of the sport’s highest honor for his play while the rest do not? The BBWAA held the door open for Rice, and in turn, now Rice holds the door out for a whole bunch of superior players heretofore not considered Hall-worthy. The above list is not comprehensive by any means.
Briefly on Dawson: I am a recent convert to his HOF case coming on board a little over a year ago after being in the “nay” camp. I am not going to sugarcoat his OBP; it’s lousy, and no amount of creative explanation will make it anything but that. However, among players with 1,000 games in center field, he is fifth in baseball history in extra-base hits and 23rd in that department overall; not only that, he played the position at a very high level.
Further, before the silly-ball (or if you will, steroid) era there were three players with careers that featured 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases: Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds and Dawson (and I feel quite strongly that Barry’s dad is deserving). Pretty elite company. (The other three were Barry Bonds, Steve Finley and Reggie Sanders, and the latter duo did it in one of the greatest offensive environments the game has witnessed.)
I think that offsets a .323 OBP—at least it does to me, and fair minds can differ with me on that.
Quick hits on (some of) the others
- Bert Blyleven (62.7%) … overdue—hopefully in ‘10.
- Lee Smith (44.5%) … sorry, but no.
- Jack Morris (44.0%) … is overrated by the traditionalists, underrated by the sabermetric community (IMHO) and I flip flop on him regularly but right now it’s no.
- Tommy John (31.7%) … while his career falls short there is a part of me that thinks there should be a place for him there since he was a pioneer of sorts.
- Mark McGwire (21.9%) … I am neither a steroid apologist nor absolutist but I am undecided on Big Mac; the numbers are there but would they be at HOF without the juice?
- Alan Trammell (17.4%) … like Lou Whitaker before him, the BBWAA deserves a hearty “Duuuuhhhh” for this and makes me think they’re gonna whiff on Robbie Alomar and Barry Larkin next year.
- Dave Parker (15.0%) … should’ve been in the Hall but partied his way out of it. Had he stayed clean, his numbers would’ve been undeniable; he’s awfully close as it is but just short. Nobody to blame but himself.
- Don Mattingly (11.9%) … was good enough but not quite long enough.
- Dale Murphy (11.5%) … I’d say no but it’s hard to keep him out now.
- Harold Baines (5.9%) … I wish he could’ve hung around long enough for 3,000 hits, 400 home runs and 1700 RBIs—the perfect debate as to the HOF. I love the man and if class were more heavily weighted—a shoo-in but no. Having said that, I am glad to see him stay on the ballot a little while because he had a terrific career.
- David Cone (3.9%) … I thought he might hang around and wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some attention from the VC.
- Matt Williams (1.3%) … see: Cone, David.
- Mo Vaughn (1.1%) … wow, the Angels have been pretty good since you left eh?
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.